I've just bought my first car (used) and noticed that there appears to be a significant chip to the paintwork on the roof.

Chipped Paint

  • Can anybody explain the level of damage there is to the paint?
  • Will the damage cause me problems down the line (corrosion for example)?
  • I have DiamondBrite applied to the car, will this offer me any additional protection?
  • Am I right to expect that the dealer should repair the damage, or is it my own fault for not noticing prior to the sale?
  • What could I do to repair / protect the damaged section?
  • This looks like paint that was previously touched up, not clearcoat failure in my opinion. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 14:32
  • What would you suggest my next steps should be @EvanParsons? Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 14:33
  • If it's a car you care about, get the roof repainted. If you don't really care, then do a better job touching it up. It looks like they used a permanent marker (I use to work for a car dealer, one of their favorite tricks) to touch up the area. Touch up paint from most dealers is pretty cheap. I paid $11 CDN for my last bottle. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 14:42
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    Partially agreeing with @EvanParsons here ... this does not look like a clear coat failure. What it looks like to me is the car has two layers of paint on it: the original and the "special" paint which you mentioned. It looks to me as though the second paint layer is chipping off from the first. If that has metallic flex in it, it is going to be a nightmare to repaint/color match, especially now that the "diamond" coat stuff is on there as well. I really don't know what to tell you here, but it doesn't look good from the picture, that's for sure. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 23:05
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    To add to my long winded comment ... I am talking to make the paint right is going to be a nightmare. If you are willing to just leave it alone, I don't think you are going to have any troubles with corrosion. The original paint (if my theory is correct) is still intact and will provide all the protection you need, at least at this spot on the car. BUT, I would fully expect this area to continue chipping away, especially if it were to see any high pressure washes. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 23:07

3 Answers 3


Is that dust or pollen I see around the chipped spot, or are those spots part of the finish?

From here... it looks like you have a clearcoat failure, the color coat being spared (for the moment). What THAT means is that your clearcoat is probably chemically incompatible with the paint underneath it - I'd bet it was shot on not very long before the sale - and the future of this car includes a leprous-looking period. That future has begun, and will continue until either that clearcoat is removed ENTIRELY, down to bare metal, or it's all flaked off & blown away - all of it.

It happens. A full-up three-coat paint job is one thing, but shooting clearcoat happily over whatever paint has been on a vehicle for years... that's asking for a severe peeling. BEGGING for it.

I bought a truck that had that sort of leprosy - didn't matter much to me, 'cause the truck was 44 years old and it's a work truck and the price was right. One little blister, crackled, and a year later there's nearly zero clearcoat left on the roof, the hood, or the upper halves of both front fenders. Someone in its past had shot urethane clearcoat over existing enamel color, and the two just aren't compatible with each other. Enamel needs to stick with enamel, lacquer with lacquer, urethane (awful stuff, horribly toxic, but pretty) with urethane.

If there are any flaws - even microscopic flaws - in the underlying color coat, water will find those flaws as soon as the clearcoat blistering has exposed them... and it'll start rust bubbles under the paint. The underlying paint job MAY actually be pretty decent, though, if it was a factory job. You may never see anything worse than the texture of a Wookie in dreadlocks.

This sort of blistering may not have even been visible as of the moment of sale - it's hard to say - but at any rate, at that time you didn't know much about it so... I'd think the dealer really ought to be held responsible for it, especially if they were the ones who did the clearcoat, or hired out the clearcoating to someone else. They SHOULD NOT have done that.

What you can do... you have two choices, as I see it. You can let it happen, get ragged, and eventually all the clearcoat will fall off & be gone. Or... if that just won't fit into the image you're setting up for yourself, you can take the car to a highly reputable paint shop for a second opinion - they'll tell ya that you need to have it sanded back to bare metal & reshot from the ground up, all over. All trim removed for shooting. Cost ya plenty. On a happier note... you get to choose that car's next color...

  • Thanks for your answer. The spots you see are part of the finish, took me a few minutes of wiping to realise this. The dealer said the paint job was an optional extra that the previous owner paid to have, however as far as I am aware it came from the factory like it (the previous owner paid for various upgrades). Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 7:28
  • Quick update: I've called the dealer who agreed to take a look at it this weekend. In preparation I have spoken to a few body shop and chip repair places for quotes to repair the damage - I specifically mentioned I want to protect against corrosion rather than respray the entire thing, but if a respray is the only way to fulfill that then I will need to save some pennies. Realistically how soon would any form of corrosion set in? Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 12:18
  • I THOUGHT that looked like little bubbles in the clearcoat... and every one of those little bubbles will become another chipped patch like the larger one you have now. That's clearcoat separation. Per your question of how soon before corrosion sets in - if there's any breach of integrity of the color coat, then corrosion has already set in at a microscopic level. This paint job really NEEDS to be fully stripped off - ALL of it, clearcoat AND paint - until nothing but shiny steel remains, then the car needs to be resprayed from nothing... primer coat, color coat, and clearcoat. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 13:16

After taking the car to the original dealer and two independent body shops they determined that only the lacquer had been removed, probably due to bird poop that was left to eat away at it.

I've been assured (from the dealer and both body shops) that ensuring the area is clean before spraying an additional later of lacquer should prevent further degradation/corrosion of the area, and that in this instance an entire respray of the roof is not necessary (although I may end up doing it as the car naturally ages).


The top coat, lacquer, has been penetrated. Your dealer looking at the paintwork, and your dealer respraying any part of the vehicle are two very differant cases. Depended on how old the vehicle is and how much you paid for it are all parts of the equation. You could go ReTro and have a vinyl roof covering if you end up being stuck with any costs.

  • Its a 2011 Ford Fiesta Titanium and was collected from the dealer Monday afternoon. Commented Aug 7, 2014 at 22:43

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